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People gather at Oakland cemetery to mark 45 years since the Jonestown Massacre

People gathered at two events at the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland Saturday to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre. 

“I am actually a survivor of Jonestown,” said Yulanda Williams. “And a former member of the Peoples Temple.”

The Peoples Temple church, originally founded in Indiana by Jim Jones, came to San Francisco in 1965. Members of his church would also set up sites in other places, including one known as Jonestown in the South American country of Guyana.

“I left approximately a year and a half before the incident happened in Jonestown,” said Williams. “However, I remained a member under the Order of Jim Jones, who had threatened my life if I would leave, along with the members of my family’s lives. And so we stayed in the Peoples Temple until the first part of 1978.”

It was on Nov. 18, 1978, when Jones would lead a mass murder-suicide which claimed more than 900 lives, including small children. 

The East Oakland Evergreen Cemetery is now home to a memorial commemorating Jonestown’s victims. 

Saturday’s first event was planned for about noon. 

“It’s a memorial commemoration, remembrance of who they were,” said Jynona Norwood. “And what they could have become. They could have been doctors.”

There was also a separate gathering held there Saturday afternoon. Among those in attendance was John Cobb, whose family members died at Jonestown. 

“They were great people. They were beautiful people,” said Cobb. “And it’s sad and terrible the tragedy that happened to them. But we try to come here not so much to mourn. Because, mourning for 45 years — you can only mourn so long. We come to remember them and let them never be forgotten.”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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